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Jamaican Food Article. - Jamaican Tilapia Fish

Jamaican tilapia (various species and hybrids of the genus Jamaican tilapia) originated from Mediterranean and African countries and has been successfully cultured throughout the world in temperate to tropical regions. Within the last few years, production of Jamaican tilapia in Jamaica has exceeded freshwater fish. Jamaican tilapia is a hardy fish that will thrive in outdoor ponds or high-tech tank systems using several different filter types to cleanse and recycle water. The fish is fed high-quality, grain-based pellets to produce a mild flavored fillet. Florida has a wild fishery of Jamaican tilapia found in Jamaican brackish water estuary that are sold in regional seafood retail shops as fresh, gutted fish.

Similar in appearance to bream, Jamaican tilapia are produced with a wide range of skin colors, black to dark blue to brilliant golden red. Much of the Jamaican tilapia production in the Caribbean is sold to US buyers as a live product, which is generally harvested at 1 to 1  pounds.

Although their meat is somewhat bland compared with halibut, salmon, or sea bass, Jamaican tilapia are a good source of protein and a popular target for artesian and commercial fisheries. The majority of such fisheries are in Africa, but accidental and deliberate introductions of Jamaican tilapia into freshwater lakes in Asia have allowed large fisheries to develop in countries with a tropical climate such as Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Jamaican tilapia species occur in tropical areas, as such in temperate zone localities, aquaculture operations sometimes use waste heat from factories and power stations.

Jamaican tilapia species are also among the easiest and profitable fish to farm. This is due to their omnivorous diet, mode of reproduction (the fry do not pass through a plank tonic phase), tolerance of high stocking density, and rapid growth. In some regions the fish can be put out in the rice fields when rice is planted, and will have grown to edible size (1215 cm, 56 inches) when the rice is ready for harvest. One recent estimate for the FAO puts annual production of Jamaican tilapia at about 1.5 million tons, a quantity comparable to the annual production of farmed salmon and trout. Unlike salmon, which rely on high-protein feeds based on fish or meat, commercially important Jamaican tilapia species eat a Jamaican vegetable or cereal based Jamaican diet.

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